Luminar to work with Mercedes-Benz on autonomous vehicles

23 January 2022

Mercedes-Benz has teamed up with lidar maker Luminar Technologies to speed up the development of automated driving technologies for its next-generation of passenger cars. As part of the agreement, the German carmaker is taking a stake in the Florida-based company, acquiring a total of 1.5 million shares.

Luminar is known as a global automotive technology company, building advanced hardware and software platforms, with industry partners including major OEMs, such as Volvo Cars and Daimler Trucks. The company says it is the first automotive technology developer to enable next-generation safety and autonomous capabilities for production vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz plans to use Luminar’s technology in future vehicles. Lidar plays a major part in autonomous driving as its laser sensor uses near-infrared light to spot shapes. This helps autonomous vehicles detect other objects – such as cars, cyclists, and pedestrians – without the help of a network connection or GPS.

Mercedes-Benz keeps pushing ahead with plans to make its future vehicles more autonomous. The German Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) recently granted type approval to the carmaker’s automated lane-keeping system (ALKS) – the first time a manufacturer achieved an international system approval to UN-R157 for its SAE Level 3 autonomous tech. This milestone, not only for the company but also the wider automotive industry, has opened the door for Mercedes-Benz to offer its ALKS globally, with test drives underway in the US and China.

‘Landmark’ moment

‘This partnership is a landmark moment in the industry, demonstrating how substantially increased safety and autonomous driving functions on consumer vehicles are going from sci-fi to mainstream,’ said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. ‘Mercedes-Benz has always been a technological leader and first mover for the industry, with the brand synonymous with automotive innovation, safety, luxury, and quality.’

The agreement with Luminar will help the carmaker expand its network of tech partners and suppliers. The German manufacturer said it wants to use Luminar’s lidar to industrialise and integrate it into series production of its vehicles, with the partnership allowing it to ensure that its cars have the most up-to-date capabilities.

‘Luminar is the perfect addition to our existing roster of first-class co-operations with leading and cutting-edge tech companies. Mercedes-Benz’s achievement of SAE Level 3 already marked a huge milestone for automated driving, and I am absolutely convinced that partnerships will increase our level of ambition for what is possible in future. Cooperation is an essential part of Mercedes-Benz’s strategy,’ said Markus Schäfer, Daimler member of the board of management and Mercedes-Benz AG, chief technology officer responsible for development and procurement.

Mercedes-Benz emphasised that safety is a core element of its brand, with its advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) aiming to improve the driving experience. Its ALKS, known as Drive Pilot, will enter series production in the S-Class and EQS later this year. Germany has shown autonomous mobility leadership by implementing autonomous vehicle legislation last year. This paves the way for autonomous vehicles to take to the roads in the country, with several pilot projects that include robotaxis already on the way.